RALEIGH — Direct temporary housing assistance from the federal government has been approved for four North Carolina counties struck by Hurricane Matthew, including Robeson.
The approval means the state and federal government will begin working immediately to provide manufactured homes as a temporary housing solution for people displaced by Hurricane Matthew.
Gov. Pat McCrory announced the approval on Thursday after meeting with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. Direct temporary housing assistance is now available to help people displaced from their homes in Robeson and Columbus, Edgecombe and Wayne counties. McCrory said additional counties are likely to join that list.
“Moving people out of shelters and into temporary and permanent housing continues to be one of our immediate priorities,” McCrory said. “I want to thank our federal partners and my team for their incredible work, but we still have a lot of work to do. As our weather continues to be pretty, sunny and hot, many people are still facing dire circumstances in our state and we will continue to do all we can to help them recover.”
Placing people in rental homes, apartments and hotels is also considered temporary housing solutions by FEMA, but in North Carolina, many rental properties and even hotels were flooded by the Oct. 8 storm, making it difficult for those displaced by Matthew to find somewhere to go. According to FEMA, the agency may only implement Direct Temporary Housing Assistance when eligible applicants cannot make use of rental assistance due to a lack of adequate alternate housing. Direct Temporary Housing Assistance must be requested by the state.
According to a statement from the Governor’s Office, 240 people remain in four emergency shelters statewide, including Robeson, and more than 1,700 families are living in temporary housing, like hotels. The state has already signed contracts that brought 165 manufactured homes to North Carolina, with more on the way.
Jan Stout, a FEMA spokesperson, told Robeson County commissioners on Monday that 587 Robeson County families are being temporarily housed in hotels and other accommodations. She said 15,361 individuals have registered with FEMA to receive financial and housing assistance, totaling $16 million in claims. By law, FEMA assistance cannot duplicate the assistance from an insurance company.
More than 7,000 structures in Robeson County were estimated to be flooded following Hurricane Matthew’s downpour, mainly in West Lumberton and South Lumberton. In Lumberton, 375 of the Lumberton Housing Authority’s 729 apartments were damaged by flooding.
To apply for FEMA assistance, go to DisasterAssistance.gov, call 1-800-621-3362 or visit the Disaster Recovery Center at the former K-Mart on Roberts Avenue in Lumberton.
Sarah Willets can be reached at 910-816-1974 or on Twitter @Sarah_Willets.